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Snow Sculptures

Age: Preschool and up
Time: 1 hour or more
Type of Activity: Back yard fun

Materials needed:

  1. A pile of well packed snow*
  2. Warm dry clothes
  3. Warm dry boots
  4. Regular snow shovel (to cut large shapes)
  5. Smaller beach shovel (for detail work)
  6. Spoon (for fine details)
  7. Spray bottle of water (optional)

* Professional snow sculpture contests often start with teams working large cubes of well packed snow. If you want to keep your sculpture on the smaller scale, you can start with a smaller cylinder. Just pack a clean plastic trash can with snow, flip it over, and you'll be sculpting away.

Playing in the snow

When it comes to playing in the snow, kids love it and we adults often get cold feet. Literally. This doesn't have to be the case. It's never too late to have a happy childhood. Use the next snowfall as an excuse to get creative with your kids.

Snow sculpture and ice castles are the winter equivalent of sand castles. Sand and snow can be used to produce stunning works of art.

To create a snow sculpture, all you need is a pile of well packed snow, an idea, and a few simple tools.

As a sculpting material, snow is cheaper and easier to work with than marble and with its better adhesion qualities, has big advantages over sand.

Hacking away

Use your snow shovel to roughly block out the basic shape of your creation. Next, use the beach shovel to further refine the shapes and, finally, use the spoon or some other shaping tool to scrape out the fine details. At this point you might want to try using the spray bottle to lightly mist the surface. The mist will melt a thin layer of snow and should quickly refreeze to a sheen of ice. This will make it easier for you to sculpt the finer details.The trick is not to use too much water. You want to be working with snow, not a slush puppy.

Project ideas to get you started

You are probably better off by starting small and working your way up toward larger structures. You don't want your enthusiasm to become victim to an overly ambitious project.

  • The basic snow turtle: A mound of snow with legs, head, and shell pattern -- very easy to make and ideal for younger kids.
  • Snow castle: Pretend that you are at the beach and the snow is sand. More complex but still easy to make.
  • Simple geometric shapes like blocks, cubes, pyramids, and spheres

Just remember, your only limitation is your endurance to cold. Let your imagination run free and enjoy yourself!

Did you know?
The greatest North American snow storm in history occurred on Feb. 13-19, 1959 when 15 feet, 8 inches of snow fell in a single snow storm at Mt. Shasta Ski Bowl, Calif.

More on: Winter Break

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